Ornament Magazine

VOL37.1 2014

Ornament is the leading magazine celebrating wearable art. Explore jewelry, fashion, beads; contemporary, ancient and ethnographic.

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appealing because they were less rigid than the required coursework for mechanical engineering. As a part of SMU's curriculum for mechanical engineering and through the co-op program, Pruitt was hired during his sophomore year by Texas Instruments (TI). He worked alongside George Sabowski, a master machinist who had completed a traditional European twenty-five-year apprenticeship when he lived in Poland. Pruitt notes that TI was not a teaching environment. Sabowski showed Pruitt the basics of machine safety but left the young student to work on his own. Here, Pruitt also learned to use a mill and a lathe. At the time, one of the products being made at TI was optical recognition devices for computer chips. The microchips had to be precisely soldered to a computer board. Pruitt's division built prototype machines to accomplish those tasks. Precision is one of the characteristics that marks Pruitt's jewelry today. His college expenses were covered through scholarships, money earned as a residential assistant and his work at Texas Instruments. But living in Dallas and paying out-of-state tuition at a private school was not inexpensive. During his freshman year in 1991 he began to make body piercing jewelry. At the time, this was a fairly open field with MIDNIGHT RENDEZVOUS necklace of zirconium 702, stainless steel cable, rubber tubing; CNC machined, contour ground, pulse arc welded, forced oxidization, sanded, 2013. ARTIST SKETCHES for Midnight Rendezvous. Photographs courtesy of the artist, except where noted. Opposite page: SEXIEST MAN ALIVE (statement by wife, Maria Allison), rings of 316L stainless steel; CNC machined, hand-finished, 2013. Photograph by Craig Smith, Heard Museum. 43 ORNAMENT 37.1.2013 own tools. Pruitt learned by watching Lewis and by emulating what he saw. When Pruitt was learning to properly bend a bracelet, he tried making and bending one hundred or more copper ones in order to successfully grasp the technique. But if he could not figure out something, he would ask Lewis who was willing to show him what he needed to know. That experience of trial and error would serve Pruitt later when he developed machinery to shape stainless steel bracelets or experimented with other techniques to accomplish unusual surface finishes. Perhaps one of his more interesting life paths was Pruitt's choice to attend Southern Methodist University in Dallas. His older brother Dominic attended SMU and the university offered an appealing albeit highly competitive engineering program. Freshman year was framed by traditional classwork and subsequent years allowed students to work and get paid in their fields of interest. But college offered some other opportunities that would affect Pruitt's creative processes. Pruitt also chose to take classes in studio art electives such as threedimensional design and sculpture. He found that defending the artwork in class forced him not only to analyze his creative works but also to successfully articulate his design plan. These classes were

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